February 2023

ILF Announces Winners of the Tomie dePaola Professional Development Award

The SCBWI Impact and Legacy Fund is thrilled to award Janelle Washington the grand prize and Melika Saeeda the honor prize for the Tomie dePaola Professional Development Award.

Judged by art director Cecilia Yung and superstar illustrators Pat Cummings, and Jessixa Bagley, Tomie dePaola Professional Development Award honors the late, truly great illustrator Tomie dePaola by awarding early-career illustrators with $3,500 for the winner and $1,500 for the honor prize. 

Janelle’s remarkable paper cuts are evocative, skilled, and gorgeous.

Choosing Brave - Janelle Washington

Of her work, Jessixa Bagley says, “Janelle has a fresh and exciting way of communicating a narrative. Her expansion on the process of cut-outs and silhouette is innovative and captivating. I see so much potential in how she could tell stories through her distinctive use of this form.”

Pat Cummings says, “Her cutout style is exacting and surprisingly flexible: whether she renders portraits, landscapes or uses her silhouettes as ornamental elements, the effect is dramatic, narrative and consistently compelling.”

Cecilia Yung says, “The emotions from Janelle’s illustrations come from her powerful compositions and the striking contrast between the strong black silhouettes and the delicate details. Her dexterity with likeness, precision and subtlety creates very effective portraits and narrative biography.”  

Congratulations, Janelle! We’re so honored to support your great work.


SCBWI Joins the Diverse Books for All Coalition

We are thrilled to announce that SCBWI has joined the Diverse Books for All Coalition. Launched in October 2022 and spearheaded by the nonprofit social enterprise First Book, the Diverse Books for All Coalition is a collaboration of more than 25 nonprofits and membership organizations from across the U.S. that are working together to tackle the lack of high-quality, affordable children’s books by and about diverse races and cultures. To support educational and racial equity, the Coalition is developing collective action designed to double the number of affordable, quality children’s books by and about diverse cultures and races over the next five years. The W.K. Kellogg Foundation awarded First Book with a $1 million, 18-month grant towards the initiative. 

In a press release from January 25, First Book President and CEO Kyle Zimmer said, “It is also particularly meaningful to welcome SCBWI as a formal member of the coalition. Authors, illustrators, and translators create the wonderful stories that help our children see themselves and others in books, and SCBWI has developed a powerful community of talented members and resources that enable aspiring writers, illustrators, and translators to develop their work, and connect with literary agents and publishers. These are precisely the elements that lead to published works from new voices. It is wonderful to have SCBWI add their support, experience, and ideas.”

As we get to work with the Coalition, we will keep members up to date about goals, programs, and initiatives. 

It's Not Too Late to Register for the In-Person and Virtual Winter Conferences!

The countdown begins to our two winter conferences! The in-person event at the New York Hilton Midtown is just days away and there are still some spaces left. If you are thinking of attending, please register soon to secure your spot! 

The in-person conference offers attendees an opportunity to spend an entire day-and-a-half diving deep into one aspect of writing, illustrating or marketing. The labs are taught by established authors, illustrators, editors, agents, and art directors and are designed to give participants tangible skills and take-aways. There are also a few spots left in the career-launching Portfolio Showcase for illustrators. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to get your art in front of industry professionals. For more information on the Creative Labs and the Portfolio Showcase and to register for the IN-PERSON conference, click HERE. 

If you can’t attend the in-person conference, the virtual conference has similar half-day labs for writers of picture books, novelists, and illustrators. For information on the VIRTUAL conference and to register, click HERE


Exclusive Member Benefits and Discounts



Click here for more information on PW's special one-year subscription offer for $99 or spring and fall children's announcements for $25.

Offers end Monday, February 6!



Get information here on Bowker's 15% discount for SCBWI members.

Meet Us in Bologna!

Going to the Bologna Children’s Book Fair? Be sure to visit us in our booth: Hall 26, Booth A156.

Monday, March 6:

Learn about our Awards, Grants and member benefits from 12pm-4pm. FREE Tote Bags while supplies last.

Tuesday, March 7:

Come meet the SCBWI Executive Team, all day on Tuesday. Join our Executive Director, Sarah Baker, at 4pm in the booth for a prosecco toast!

Wednesday, March 8:

Have your portfolio reviewed by an agent from 9:30am-10:30am. Dueling Illustrators starts at noon.

Wednesday Evening we are hosting a party at a local bookstore for our members and industry professionals. Please email [email protected] for more information.

Raising Ourselves with Queer & Trans KidLit

by Lexie Bean

As a queer and trans child in the 90s, I didn’t know these self-descriptive words.

While there can be freedom without the confines of language, a need to try was always present. Trying to fit, and trying to hide when that didn’t feel possible. Trying to let people know I didn’t have “cooties,” which is how I was taught about AIDS and the LGBTQIA2S+ umbrella as a whole. Trying to simply read between the lines of what was available.

The girl who stopped speaking in Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak, I imagined her falling in love with a kind of person she couldn’t imagine before. Tibby with the edgy haircut in Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants--I envisioned myself visiting her during her job to ask her a lot of questions, but nothing too obvious. Questions like, “what helps you be okay?” Or “are there times you’re afraid of being in trouble?”

As I became a teenager, I shifted away from books for young readers and even YA. I was eager to grow into something that had not yet been explicitly presented to me. Again, I didn’t really have the words nor the stories that fit. I just knew I liked stories about leaving, about running away. I preferred stories about adults who worried about adult things because I was a young person who, too, worried about what was considered “adult” at the time - like, my body, my sexuality, my safety. I sometimes even preferred graphic novels because, there, I trusted the author also didn’t always know the best words to say. 

Now, as a queer and trans adult living far from where I grew up, I find myself returning to literature centering young protagonists and audiences. Because, now, with distance of space and time, I have the privilege of finding new ways to raise myself.


Featured Illustrator: London Ladd

Every month a talented illustrator is chosen to be the SCBWI Featured Illustrator. This month's featured artist is London Ladd. In this interview, London shares his journey, art process, and what inspires his transformational work. Learn more about London’s work at www.londonladd.com

Are you interested in submitting work to be a Featured Illustrator? Click here to watch the Featured Illustrator's interview and apply! https://www.scbwi.org/featured-illustrator/

Apply to one of our awards, grants, and scholarships today!


Great Reads. Important Themes.

All-new books by our members.


Introducing the 2022 Spark Winners

The SCBWI is proud to announce the winners of the 2022 Spark Award, our annual award that recognizes excellence in independent or non-traditional publishing.

In the Picture Book Category:

WINNER: Little Dune by Lisa Van Der Wielen, illustrated by Alison Mutton

HONOR: Lena and the Dragon by Bethany Walker, illustrated by Rodrigo Cordeiro

In the Books for Older Readers Category:

WINNER: Salmon Survivor by Christian Shane

HONOR: Ugly by Kelly Vincent


2022 BookStop Takes a Dip

BookStop 2022 saw a drop off from 2021 indicating that it is due for a comprehensive reimagining of the promotion this year to deliver more value to members. 

Total pageviews declined to 36,646 (down 26%) for the promotion period of October 18 – December 16 from 50,102 last year. Member pages were down to 933 (1,034 in 2021) with 618 independently published and 315 traditionally published. There were 457 Full members, 356 PAL members, and 120 Associate members who participated. Picture books (511), middle grade (160) and YA (99) led in the categories with chapter books (44) and nonfiction (40) having strong showings, too.

Paid advertising on Twitter pulled in 177,775 impressions with 641 tweet engagements measuring out to an engagement rate of 10.40% on our ads around Black Friday and gifting books from our list. Boosted posts on Instagram opened up the audience to 8,783 accounts that engaged with our ads 4% of which were not current followers. 

In 2023 with our new website that will help us in providing a more technologically advanced environment, the goal is to drive awareness and provide an environment to track sales of member books.

Impact and Legacy Fund: Announcing Recipients of the First Stephen Fraser Encouragement Fund

The SCBWI Impact and Legacy Fund, the charitable division of the SCBWI, is beyond ecstatic to announce the recipients of the inaugural Stephen Fraser Encouragement Fund. 

The Stephen Fraser Encouragement Fund awards three children’s book creators with no-strings-attached grants of $2,000 each. This year, we are so excited to award Costantia Manoli, Tamika Burgess, and Susan Muaddi Darraj.

The recipients are remarkable not only for the high caliber of their work but also for their global reach. Hailing from Cyprus, California, and Canada, these incredible creatives have produced short story collections, picture books, and middle grade novels that capture the best of children’s literature. 


SCBWI Exclusive with... Kaitlyn Sanchez, Agent, Bradford Literary

Kaitlyn Sanchez is a mom, wife, agent with Bradford Literary Agency, and middle school math teacher. She’s also the proud co-creator and co-host of the Spring Fling Kidlit Contest and Kidlit Zombie Week as well as creator and co-host of the Kidlit Fall Writing Frenzy Contest. In her free time, she loves to play soccer, binge-watch TV shows, and, of course, read. Especially when she’s all cozied up with her husband and daughter reading together.

Website: https://kaitlynleannsanchez.com/

Twitter: @KaitlynLeann17

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KaitlynLeann17


What was your path to becoming an agent?

As most who seek to find where they belong, my path to agenting was wonderful and winding. It essentially boils down to connections – connecting with beautiful writing, connecting with wonderful people, and wanting to connect others. 

As I was pursuing picture book writing, I participated in many critique groups because I loved reading stories and providing feedback. I was in one critique group where we were obsessed with Susanna Hill and Vivian Kirkfeld’s picture book writing contests. We were so devastated when one of the contests ended, and we realized we would have to wait months for the next contest. So, one of my critique partners, Ciara O’Neal, suggested we create our own contest just in our group, and I suggested we take it to the public. This was the start of our Spring Fling Kidlit Contest, and the thing I loved the most about the contest was connecting authors to industry professionals. I quickly realized that those connections were a huge part of agenting. 


Current in KidLit

American Library Association announces 2023 Youth Media Award winners, ala.unikron.com

HarperCollins, striking workers agree to federal mediation in battle over wages, diversity by Hillel Italie, USA Today

Why I’m Still on Strike: Portraits from the HarperCollins Picket Line by Olivia McGiff, lithub.com

Students want new books. Thanks to restrictions, librarians can’t buy them. by Hannah Natanson, Washington Post

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What Are You Reading?

Sarah Baker (Executive Director):

Maizy Chen’s Last Chance by Lisa Yee 

Tammy Brown (Director of Marketing and Communication Strategy):

For Lamb by Lesa Cline-Ransome

Kim Turrisi (Director of Programming and Content):

YOU: The Story: A Writer's Guide to Craft Through Memory by Ruta Sepetys

Sarah Diamond (Senior Manager of Awards and Publications):

When the Angels Left the Old Country by Sacha Lamb

TeMika Grooms (Manager of Design and Illustration):

My Body in Pieces by Marie-Noëlle Hébert

Laurie Miller (Manager of Events and Special Projects):

I Was Born for This by Alice Oseman

Josh Smith (Director of Web Development, Database Manager):

The Commitments by Roddy Doyle

Patricia Wiles (Director of Regional Team Management):

MAUS by Art Spiegelman


The January prompt was: KICKOFF

The January winners are...

Trish Heully

Shannon Szczepanski

The February prompt is: WORM'S EYE VIEW

Every month we develop a long list of potential #scbwiDrawThis prompts to choose one word or phrase that will challenge our illustrator members to dig deep and draw. Our goal is to find words rooted in a unique action, mood, point of view, or character theme. We also hope this practice will help you develop new art for your growing portfolios. Share your work with us! Share it often online and in your member profile page on scbwi.org/illustrator-gallery. We want to see what you create!

Official Hashtag: #scbwiDrawThis

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